This past weekend, Maggie Rogers’ Austin City Limits Live performance was interrupted by a disturbing outburst. “Take your top off,” a male audience member yelled. “You look cute though,” another followed. During her routine intermission before the acoustic encore of “Alaska,” a vulnerable moment where Rogers speaks about gratitude and growth, she instead left feeling shocked and violated.
“I was stunned. Furious. Fuming. Confused. And also — on a really basic level — it really hurt my feelings,” Rogers wrote in a social media post after the show. Following the vulgar comment at her performance, Rogers used the experience to reflect on what it means to open yourself up as an artist on stage only to be met with derogatory words. “I step on stage every night and give every part of me. And my community shows up every night and together, we create a safe space to amplify each other,” she wrote.
The 25-year-old singer also warned that any future bullying or harassment at her shows would not be tolerated. “I want to use this moment to be very very clear. There is no space for harassment or disrespect or degradation of any kind at my shows,” she said.
Rogers’ stance is a harrowing reminder of the torment women in the public eye, as well as others just walking down the street, face on a regular basis. In a national study conducted earlier this year, 81% of women reported experiencing a form sexual harassment at least once in their life, with the majority describing their harassment as verbal and in public. This historic cycle of abuse is one that needs to stop, and by calling out this offensive behaviour, Rogers is creating a greater platform for change.
Rogers first rose to fame after Pharrell Williams guest lectured her music class at New York University when she was a student. A video of his overwhelmingly warm reaction to her song "Alaska" made her a household name for many. Since, her songwriting and rise to stardom has always been dedicated to connecting with fans and talking about her music candidly.
“I know that not everybody gets to choose their fans, but every time I talk to somebody who listens to my music I always feel like we would be hanging out at the same house party,” Rogers said in an interview with Refinery29. “It feels like my music did this thing of like bringing together all like-minded people who I would want to hang out with anyway. It’s nice to talk about music, but I also just really like the people I’m talking to."